Since the release of their Wild & Weak EP in 2017, Brisbane quintet WAAX have been bustling about the tour circuit in a big way. You may have seen them taking on festivals, opening for the likes of Dune Rats and Fall Out Boy and packing out their own headliners for good measure – any way you cut it; you’ve seen, you’ve heard, you know. They’re back in a support slot tonight, making their debut at the Enmore Theatre. Not that you’d know it was their first time, of course – the second vocalist Maz DeVita arrives on stage, it’s as if she’s walked onto it a thousand times before. Such is the confidence and charisma that she oozes as a performer – it’s entirely magnetic and mesmerising. Part Iggy Pop and part Courtney Love, she leans on the theatrics of the former and the rip-tear vocal approach of the latter to concoct something that’s quintessentially hers. Their songs are punchy, cathartic rock numbers that, while slick, don’t cover up any flaws or imperfections – it’s all or nothing. WAAX know they’re not playing to their crowd. All they know is it’s their crowd by the time their half-hour finishes.
It’s telling that Biffy Clyro don’t come on stage fully clothed and then remove excess clothing. They go on stage with their shirts already off. They’re not here to fuck spiders – or whatever the equivalent animal is in Scotland. With over two decades in the game and seven full-lengths to their name, there’s a distinct confidence in the band’s presence. Simon Neil is acutely aware that he can peel himself off the microphone at any given moment during the set and rely upon 2000-odd backing vocalists to take over.
This is a crowd so shit-hot that they’ll even give moshing in math-rock time signatures a go, as they bravely do in the instrumental bridge of “That Golden Rule.” Whether it’s cuts from their most recent LP (2016’s Ellipsis) or classics from the pre-Puzzle era, it’s a full credit to the band for making the case for every single song’s inclusion on the setlist. Hell, it says a great deal that they can entirely ignore one of their biggest songs in “The Captain” and no-one bats an eyelid. That’s just how slick the whole performance is – although the Enmore is no slouch of a room, Biffy are arena-fillers in the UK and they make the show feel exactly like that. Whether it’s the tender balladry of “Machines” or rousing breakthrough “Mountains,” you’re compelled to get involved on some level.
Review – David James Young